After exploring different areas of Kent together with trusty photographer Giuseppe, we decided to do another piece of the South East Coast Path: specifically from Whitstable to the Reculver Towers. The whole walk is pleasant, not surprisingly it is a path particularly suitable for families. The trail runs along the waterfront and is part of the Oyster Bay Trail.
We arrive after an hour and a half by train from St Pancras station in London, we head immediately to the cute center made of cobbled alleys, streets with houses with colorful windows and flowered balconies, features that can be noticed especially in the main street Harbour Street. A real dive back in time.
OYSTERS OF WHITHSTABLE
Whitstable, since Roman times, is a well-known oyster farm. When we arrive at the port we learn that here there are two varieties of oysters: the big and autochthonous ones, made with grey shells of palm, fat and succulent, and those of rock that are imported and are bred on easels. The latter have a quality of non-sgummy meat with a clean, salty and surprising delicate taste; they are perhaps the only oysters in the world that melt in the mouth, helped by a pinch of tabasco and a sprinkling of fresh lemon. After years of dredging native oysters in open sea, there are now three stages for local breeding of both varieties: the first is the onshore hatchery (which typically lasts two to three weeks), then follows the growth on easels (typically two years) and finally the purification in tanks located on the eastern pier of the port (about two days). These three stages represent the method of modern oyster aquaculture and is one of the most sustainable methods in the world to produce protein. Oysters naturally feed on algae in the water while improving its quality, preserving biodiversity and acting as a carbon sink to mitigate climate change. I must say that this place still retains the simplicity of the fishing equipment that I saw lying along the harbor canal.
the easels with oysters
the Whitstable oyster farm
FISHING IN WHITSTABLE
Versatility and flexibility are the key features of the Whitstable fishing industry, thanks to the wide variety of fish in the region, their farming patterns, their seasonality, the evolution of demand and competition. Locally caught species include cod, sole, sprat, herring, stakes and a wide range of molluscs, including lobsters, crabs and oysters. The Thames estuary is a breeding area for many of these species which, in their respective high breeding season, also attract fishermen from many other areas.
Whitstable view from the beach
the port of Whitstable
The Oyster Festival is an annual event that usually takes place in July, in which the procession and the blessing of the catch are accompanied by a parade and an oyster festival, a tasty opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of this city on the sea out of time.
WITHSTABLE TO HERNE BAY
After this first exploratory stop, we continued our journey towards Herne Bay where the beach is made up of small pebbles, surrounded by green lawns and the colorful houses in pastel tones that brings joy, are the protagonists. Continuing our walk we saw in the distance small buildings along a small peninsula: those of Herne Bay. Its coastline is typical of English seaside towns; we passed it and always following the promenade between the smell of fish and chips and the noise of the undertow, we continued on the path.
towards Herne Bay
colored houses along the way
FROM HERNE BAY TO THE RECULVER TOWERS
In this part of the route we met fewer people and almost all the way we were accompanied by the way of different species of birds. Until you reach Minnis Bay, a beautiful bay from where you can decide whether to continue on the long sea or on the coast; we stayed by the sea and then continue on pebbles that have tested our ankles. I recommend this option when the tide is low because not only can you discover an infinity of flat rocks that have been completely covered by some kind of grassy algae, but also because you must never underestimate the sudden rise of the tide. Seeing the sparkling sea under the sun and the beautiful cliffs is not an everyday thing so we felt doubly lucky. Between steps we began to see in the distance a majestic ruin at the foot of the cliff of Reculver, surmounted by two towers also known as the “two sisters”. They dominate the remains of a church that was originally built within a Roman fort and later a Saxon monastery. The landscape around us is crazy! The impression is to be inside some script of a film.
towards the towers of Reculver
the view of the Reculver towers
THE RECULVER TOWERS
When the Romans built a fort here in 43 BC against Saxon raids, the village of Reculver guarded the north end of the Wantsum Channel which separated the island of Thanet from the rest of Kent and the sea was almost a mile away. Reculver later became the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery which later became a parish church. The high towers were built during a renovation of the church in the twelfth century and were used as a coastal navigation point. Since then, much has changed. At the beginning of the 19th century, the sea was so close that the villagers moved inland. The erosion of the sea and the wind has crumbled most of the territory almost to undermine the imposing twin towers of the medieval church of Reculver. The visit to the ruins is free. For the return you can choose to take the bus from Reculver Tower to Herne Bay station or walk to Herne Bay (about 1 hour).
the two towers
END: Reculver Tower
HOW TO GET THERE: from Victoria Station there are direct trains that take you to Whitstable in an hour and a half. For timetables visit the website souteasternrailway
DISTANCE: 15 km
TIME: taking into account various stops 4 hours
DIFFICULTY’: easy to
- You can choose to do just one piece of the route from Withstable to Herne Bay or vice versa or from Herne Bay to Reculver Towers.
- do not forget to eat the delicious oysters of Whitstable, on the seafront there are many kiosks offering the local specialty.
- comfortable shoes
- bring water
panorama of Reculver towers